Build some race wheels on Thursday night, win number one of the season 48 hours later…
I missed racing the Scott Marathon Series last year and so put the races firmly in the diary for 2017. The first race at Bulith Wells in Welsh Wales this weekend featured two options of night races on the Saturday night followed by three options of marathon races on the Sunday. I decided that the shorter of the two options was the one for me for the Saturday night – I wasn’t fully sure how my legs would be on my first ride on my mountain bike since September and I wanted to get my new wheels, tyres and set-up fully bedded in for Sunday without breaking it! At 8 pm we all met at the Scott HQ, a cowshed at the Royal Welsh Showground.
Following the lead car out of town I felt pretty strong straight away, riding alongside all the regulars – Nick from Scott, my mate (and former team-mate) Carwyn from Cycle-Tec, Gabor, Graham and Chris from Fruit 4 London and a whole bunch of Hope Factory and Torq Energy riders along with the rest of a 150 strong field. Up the first tarmac climb the bike felt spot-on, everything was working well including a mod I’ve made to the way my lock-out works by using some parts from a Shimano XT shifter.
Onto the shale farmer’s track and we were almost on top of the moor in a group of around a dozen – before we started I’d chatted to Nick and we were both undecided about possibly turning onto the 40km loop at the course split. I think he’s had so much to deal with that he wasn’t really in it for the racing, he was there for something more than that – as I turned off for the 20km loop, I smiled to myself watching Nick head off on the 40km route in the lead group of three riders. Charlie would be proud of his Dad right there.
Heading back over the hill in my race I was now in a group of three also. We blasted over some big grassy drops and I could tell my lack of practice on the mountain bike was holding the others up, but on each climb that we came to I was dropping them easily. On a particularly steep piece of tarmac I dropped the hammer and didn’t look back. The final five km were a gravelly sprint to the line, back at the cowshed – riding in there with no one else in the picture – was a great way to start the year. The bike worked great and my Schwalbe Thunder Burt’s were the perfect tyre for the dry Welsh hills. I won by a minute or two and had the bike washed before Carwyn and Nick came home first and second in the 40km race.
Results 20km approx;
- Glen Whittington (SDW) 55:49
- Sam Pantling (unattached) 57:25
- Richard Conner (Corley) 01:00:12
Results 40km approx;
- Carwyn Davies (Cycle-Tec) 01:35:51
- Nick Craig (Scott RC) 01:35:56
- Luke Kendall (Complete Cycle Works) 01:40:27
Photos by Glen Whittington.
Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races mountain bikes, road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, Scott Sports, The Velo House, and the.æight.bicycle.cømpany. Glen runs The Velo House with Olly, a coffee shop, workshop and bike shop welcoming all cyclists and non-cyclists, based at 5 St.Johns Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 9TN – 01892 554 505 – firstname.lastname@example.org. He also contributes to Simpson Mag @eightbikeco #aeightracer